CHRISTOPHER DRESSER (4 July 1834 in
* 1 Biography * 2 Partial bibliography * 3 References * 4 Further reading * 5 External links
Teapot of 1879
Dresser was born in Glasgow, Scotland , of a Yorkshire family. At age 13, he began attending the Government School of Design , Somerset House, London. He received training in design and took botany as his specialization. He lectured on the new subject of Art Botany to complete his studies before his appointment in 1855 as Professor of Artistic Botany in the Department of Science and Art, South Kensington. He wrote a series of articles that appeared in the _Art Journal _ in 1857, "Botany as Adapted to the Arts and Art Manufactures". In 1858 he sold his first designs.
In 1850 the
University of Jena ,
From this early date his design work widened to include carpets, ceramics, furniture, glass, graphics, metalwork, including silver and electroplate, and textiles printed and woven. He claimed to have designed 'as much as any man' at the International Exhibition London 1862. As early as 1865 the Building News reported that in the early part of his career he had been active as a designer of wallpapers, textiles and carpets thus the most active revolutioniser in the decorative art of the day. He wrote several books on design and ornament, including _The Art of Decorative Design_ (1862), _The Development of Ornamental Art in the International Exhibition_ (1862), and _Principles of Design_ (1873) which was addressed in the preface to 'working men'. In 1899 _The Studio_ magazine found it was possible to quote this book 'page after page and not find a line, scarcely a word, that would not be endorsed by the most critical member of the Arts and Crafts Association today.' In effect Dresser set the agenda adopted by the Arts and Crafts movement at a later date.
In 1873 he was requested by the American Government to write a report on the design of household goods.
En route for Japan in 1876 he delivered a series of three lectures in the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art and supervised the manufacture of wallpapers to his design for Wilson Fennimore. He was commissioned by Messrs Tiffany of New York to form a collection, whilst in Japan, of art objects both old and new that should illustrate the manufactures of that country.
In four months in 1876/1877 Dresser travelled about 2000 miles in Japan, recording his impressions in _Japan, its Architecture, Art and Art-Manufactures_. He represented the South Kensington Museum whilst in Japan, and was received at court by the Emperor, who ordered Dresser to be treated as a guest of the nation – all doors were open to him. He was requested by the Japanese Government to write a report on 'Trade with Europe'. His pioneering study of Japanese art is evident in much of his work which is considered typical of the Anglo-Japanese style .
From 1879 to 1882 Dresser was in partnership with Charles Holme
(1848–1923) as Dresser "> Christopher Dresser. Soup Plate, Persia
Between 1879 and 1882, as Art Superintendent at the
Middlesbrough he designed over 1,000 pots. If
his ceramic work from the 1860s onwards (for firms such as
Some of Dresser’s metalwork designs are still in production, such as his oil and vinegar sets and toast rack designs, now manufactured by Alessi. Alberto Alessi goes so far as to say Dresser 'knew the techniques of metal production better than any designer who has come to Alessi'.
One of his Old Hall designs is thought to have inspired Alan Garner 's 1967 novel _ The Owl Service _.
Botany diagram, about 1855,
* ^ _A_ _B_ W.Halen. Christopher Dresser, 1990, p.17 * ^ _A_ _B_ Morley, Christopher. _Dresser